A Beautiful Union

Eloping is a momentous occasion, and one we encourage for many reasons. It’s a way to embark on an adventure with your sweetheart, save money on a large production, and escape the dreaded social pressure of choosing who to invite to a big white wedding. Whether you’re a local couple, or someone who’s eyeing Oregon as an out-of-state option, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about making your Oregon elopement legally binding.

Step 1: Choose a County Clerk

In order to elope in Oregon, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license. This can be done through a county clerk’s office in one of Oregon’s 36 counties. Here’s the fun part, you are NOT required to get married in the same county where the license is issued! This means you could pick up your marriage license in Portland, but elope to the Painted Hills!

Step 2: Fill Out your Marriage Application

This can be done in advance online, or in-person at the county clerk’s office. It’s important to note that when you pick up your license, you and your partner must both be present with your photo IDs.

Step 3: Pay and Wait

This is the most annoying part of the process, but there are exceptions to every rule. Your marriage license must be obtained 3 days prior to the date that you have your ceremony. This means that if you are eloping on a Saturday, you’ll need to have obtained the license by Thursday. Most states have a $50-60 fee, and some clerks will waive this waiting period for an additional charge. If you want to plan way ahead, you’ll have 60 days to submit your license from the date that it’s issued.

Step 4: Say “I do”

The State of Oregon requires you to have a ceremony which is officiated by a 3rd party. We’ll get into the nitty gritty details below, but for this step, know that you’ll need an officiant and two witnesses. More on this later.

Step 5: Submit Your License

Once you’ve had your elopement ceremony, you have 5 days to submit your marriage license back to the county clerk, and that’s that! You are officially (legally) married!

Acquire a marriage license from a county clerk's office. No Oregon residency required. The license can be applied for online, but it must be obtained in person. Both partners must be present with valid photo IDs when picking up the license. The cost typically ranges from $50 to $60. There's a mandatory 3-day waiting period once the license is issued, and it's valid for 60 days. Submit it within 5 days of your ceremony.

Now that we’ve covered the basic steps, it’s worth mentioning the legal requirements for marriage in the State of Oregon. The guidelines are fairly straightforward, but they will affect how you plan your elopement. 

Here are the legal requirements in a nutshell:

But so many of the couples in your elopement films don’t have an officiant! Why do we need one?

Glad you asked. Many of our elopement films feature couples who have had their legal ceremony performed in advance of their vow reading. The beauty of elopements is that you can really make them your own! If you want to swing by the courthouse or fill out your marriage license on your minister’s kitchen table, the options are limitless! Often, we refer to a couple’s elopement as the occasion where they embark on a private journey to somewhere special. There, they’ll read their vows, eat some cake, and revel in the peace and quiet of a wedding without any in-laws present 😉

Will I need a separate permit for the location I’m eloping to?

Depending on where you want to elope and how many people you’ll be inviting, you may want to check in advance. Many National and State Parks require a special use permit for larger groups. You can download one here.

How do I change my name once I’m married?

Buckle up, because this process is a hassle. If your spouse wants to take your name, be prepared to give foot rubs and rosé as a humble thank-you. Once your marriage is finalized, a marriage certificate will be issued to you, and this will become proof of your legal name change. 

Here’s where the work begins: you will have to submit this information to all relevant agencies in the state. Yep, get ready for a trip to the DMV and be prepared to re-take that passport photo. But don’t worry, your spouse will have a bottle of rosé chilling for you once you get home.

In Conclusion

If you’re thinking about eloping in the State of Oregon, we would love to hear about your plans! A Beautiful Union is a film studio for weddings and elopements across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. You can check out some of our work here. Cheers!